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Archive for January, 2021

Stellantis: One New Name, A New Home For Many

Stellantis. It’s the umbrella name for the coming together of two major automotive groups, the Peugeot and Citroen Alliance, and the Fiat Chrysler conglomerate. There are brands as diverse as Opel to Maserati, Citroen’s DS to Vauxhall, and there is already murmurs of upgrades to vehicles produced by companies now joined as one.

The full list, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Lancia, and Maserati from FCA, and Citroën, DS, Opel, Peugeot, and Vauxhall from to PSA means that there is over 120 years of automotive history brought together. And collectively, there are now over 400,000 personnel with that collective pool of experience and knowledge.

John Elkann is the Chairman of the Stellantis board, and says: “It is no coincidence that Stellantis is born precisely when our world requires a new kind of automotive company that will champion clean and intelligent solutions to provide freedom of movement for all. Our global scale and reach provide us with the resources to invest in state-of-the-art technologies, distinctive excellence and unmatched choice for our customers.

But it is the geographic and cultural diversity of Stellantis’ people that from Day One is our greatest competitive advantage. It is they, with their energy, their knowhow and their constant commitment who make Stellantis what it is today. And it is they who day-by-day will build an even greater company for this new era of mobility.”Echoing his words is the new Chief Executive Officer, Carlos Tavares, with: “This is a great day. One year after we announced this project, Stellantis is born, notwithstanding the unprecedented societal and economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to warmly thank all of the teams who made this possible and also thank the entire workforce who continued to move our operations forward during this exceptional year.

This demonstrates the agility, creativity and adaptability of our company which aims to be great rather than big, determined to be much more than the sum of its parts. It is also a further signal of the new company’s determination to be a leading player in the automotive industry in this ever changing environment. Stellantis is dedicated to “pursuing greatness” and enhancing the well-being of its employees.”

The group’s spread reaches to over 130 countries, and the brands cover the full spectrum of market segments from luxury, premium and mainstream passenger vehicles to hard-charging pickup trucks, SUVs and light commercial vehicles, as well as dedicated mobility, finance and parts and service brands. This new group now expects to leverage its size and economies of scale to invest in innovative mobility solutions for its global customer base. Forward estimates see Stellantis looking at a revenue base of over five billion Euro in a synergystic way of spreading the brands.

Achieving that revenue will come from a streamliniung of processes, including how purchasing is conducted, the crossover of drivetrains and platforms, and an amortisation of Research and Development. Currently, that estimate also comes from not closing any production plants. To ensure that all departments flow smoothly, including company-wide performance & strategy, planning, regions, manufacturing, brand and styling, there will be nine Governance Committees.

2021 Hyundai i30 Elite v 2021 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The two cars, in hatchback form, that dominate the market for their sector. We were lucky enough to have the 2021 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport and 2021 Hyundai i30 Elite side by side. Five door bodies, automatics, revvy four cylinder engines, and decent tech for the average family are hallmarks of both. However, one of the two is not like the other, in that the i30 range was given a refresh late in 2020, with the sedan now replacing the Elantra, with Toyota’s offering always having a sedan available.

We back-to-back the pair in a not quite but close apples for apples comparison. The Elite is close to the top of the i30 range, the Ascent Sport is the entry level to a three tier range from Toyota.

How Much Do They Cost?: In basic Glacier White and auto form the Ascent Sport starts from $29,380 with metallics a no cost option but $500 on SX and ZR. For our location, Hyundai’s website priced the i30 Elite auto at $33,830 in Polar White. Clad in Intense Blue, as was our test car, that goes to $34,340. Both cars are on a drive-away price schedule. Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.0L GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) engine for the contender in the Korean corner, and a same sized engine for the Japanese contender. The Hyundai runs a traditional torque converter auto with six ratios, the Toyota a CVT with ten preprogrammed steps. Both drive the front wheels and each have manual shifting. Power for the Korean is 120kW and peak torque is 203Nm, with 6,200rpm and 4,700rpm the required figures. Corolla has 125kW and 200Nm, however Toyota don’t appear to list the rev points.The i30’s overall economy finished on a creditable 7.2L/100km. We saw a best of 6.0L/100km, a very good figure considering it was loaded with four passengers and a reasonable amount of boot space filled. Corolla’s average hovered between 6.0L to 6.5L per 100km in a more urban oriented drive. Tank for the Ascent Sport is 50.0L, matched by the i30. Both are 91RON and E10 compatible.

On The Inside It’s: Black leather for the i30, with perforated squabs but no venting nor heating. The Ascent Sport has black cloth as befits an entry level vehicle. Both have DAB audio and a point of difference here. The Toyota’s layout is simple and intuitive barring the fact it’s a black and white 8.0 inch screen. The Corolla has voice recognition, a bonus at an entry level.It’s much easier to use whereas the Hyundai’s updated screen, even with the appeal of colour and in the Elite it’s 10.25 inches, isn’t as intuitive. We also found the sensitivity of the Korean’s tuner to be less than the Corolla’s. Ascent Sport has satnav as an option and includes a USB port in Ascent Sport trim. Smart apps are standard in both.The dash design for each stamps their mark; the Corolla’s has barely changed in some years and features the somewhat heavy and intrusive triple wave design that intrudes into the kneespace of driver and passenger. The Hyundai’s design has space between the plastic and the knees and in the i30 it’s a simple, single line from side to side that incorporates the piano black surrounds for the aircon. The Hyundai’s gear selector feels it has a shorter throw and the springing in the Corolla isn’t as tight as the Elite’s.Both have auto, dusk sensing headlights, with the Elite’s higher spec level adding in rain sensing wipers. It’s a key start for the Ascent Sport, push button for the i30. The Elite also has a 12V socket up front with a wireless charging pad. The Corolla’s dash display has the speedo front and centre, with the full colour 4.3inch info screen on far right. The Elite has a full colour TFT 7.0 inch display, shared across all models.One notable difference between the two is the Corolla’s much discussed cargo section. It’s not a high loading lip however the cargo section’s floor is level with it, and underneath is the spare wheel and associated equipment. The i30’s floor is below the lip and seems further from the rear seats too, making for a more family friendly usage. Also, the i30’s boot area is home to the bass driver for the audio system. The Corolla has 217L to 333L, a figure much commented on since the revamps, with the Hyundai starting from 395L and moving to 1,301L with the second row folded. Both have a full sized spare.994mm and 977mm are the head room front and rear measurements for the i30, 1073mm and 883mm leg room, with 1,427mm and 1,406mm shoulder room. The Toyota spec sheet doesn’t list them.

On The Outside It’s: A mild but noticeable update for the i30. Up front is a set of driving lights that have have expanded from a simple strip of LEDs to a more assertive looking set of triangular LEDs that fill out the insert, and double as indicators. The grille has morphed and moved to a broader design, and has a more flamboyant fan shaped styling. The rear lights have a slight restyle to match the very mild changes to the front lights.

Corolla was given its own do-over in 2018. It’s broader, sharper edged, and lower than the more bluff and upright standing i30. The flanks are more organic, curved, than the straight sides of the i30, and the rear has a more pronounced slope than its Korean counterpart. The LED DRLs are far more inboard and set inside the narrow headlight cluster.There’s notable differences between these two however there are similarities to other brands. The VW Golf is more akin to the squat and bluff i30, Subaru’s laid back Impreza hatch is closer to the Corolla.

i30’s length is 4,340mm, and stands 1,455mm tall. Width is 1,795mm and wheelbase is a decent 2,650mm. Corolla is 4375mm in length, with a 2640mm wheelbase. Height and width are 1,435mm and 1,790mm.

On The Road It’s: A definite difference in feeling. The Corolla’s steering is light in comparison to the i30 Elite’s but it’s also more twitchy. The Hyundai has some real weight, and it’s subtly but noticeably more front wheel drive. The lightness of the Ascent Sport means one can comfortably pootle around town with only one hand on the tiller but that twitchiness then demands both hands be in contact. The i30’s has a need for both, particularly because of the over-enthusiastic lane keep assist function. The Corolla’s is noticeable but nowhere near as “grabby”, a complaint well recognised about the Korean. The i30’s suspension is more sporting in tune, with the 225/45/17 Hankook Ventus Prime rubber gripping hard and well, and providing a little bit of absorption from the smaller sidewalls. The Ascent Sport has 205/55/16s from Dunlop’s Enasave range and the higher sideall is certainly noticeable in ride absorption. It also flexes just enough to put a bit of Sport into the Ascent Sport name. Highway and freeway ride quality certainly had the Ascent Sport in a slightly more wallowly mood, not quite as tied down nor quick to dampen, as the i30. In contrast, the i30 was a bit more bang thump.The i30 had a minor glitch in the engine under load. On the flat and and on uphill acceleration, there was a momentary “pinging”, a stutter in the otherwise smooth pull of the 2.0L. It has to be noted that we’ve not experienced anything like this in a modern car and Hyundai’s garage was made aware of it. The auto is smooth in changing and the electronics work with the throttle input and engine’s revs perfectly. Using the manual shift option makes fractionally quicker changes.For the CVT in the Ascent Sport, if a quick getaway is the required situation, manual shifting works wonders. There’s minor “slurring” on the changes but it’s preferable to the unenergetic normal sensation from the CVT on gentle to medium acceleration. A harder and heavier pedal extracts more from the 2.0L and CVT and even brings in mild torque-steer.

Braking in both is courtesy of well balanced, well modulated, discs front and rear. The pedal in the i30 has a heavier feel and in context matches the steering. The Corolla’s is lighter but not without feel. It’s also slightly quicker in the ratio, but not by much.

What About Safety?: Hyundai doesn’t skimp on the i30, with Blind Spot Collision, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Safe Exit warning missing only from the base i30 and Active. Otherwise the Safety Sense package adds in Driver Attention Warning, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) – City/Urban/Interurban/Pedestrian/Cyclist (camera & radar), Lane Following Assist and Lane Keeping Assist-Line.

Corolla matches this with Lane Trace Assist for the CVT equipped Ascent Sport, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian (day and night) and cyclist (day) detection plus Road Sign Assist. Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic, like an entry level i30, is missing in the Ascent Sport. Both load up seven airbags including a kneebag for the driver.

What About Warranty And Service?: Toyota has a VIN based service structure online. Warranty is five years and unlimited kilometres. That’s the same for the i30 and Hyundai also uses a VIN based service quote system.

At The End Of The Drive. In honesty, there really isn’t a lot between them, even looking at putting the SX in the place of the Ascent Sport. It would be convenience factors such as the charge pad perhaps, the extra clearance of the dash in the i30 over the Corolla’s design, and the brilliant screen for the driver in the i30 against the slightly better economy in the Corolla and the more user friendly interface on the touchscreen.The driving experience is a user dependent one; for us the i30’s ride tune was preferable, however there is no doubt that the softer and more comfortable tune of the Corolla Ascent Sport has its adherents. There’s also that legendary Toyota sense of being bullet-proof and infallible. In essence, the gap isn’t as big as it could have been.

Caravanning

So there have been one or two posts on towing, as well the ones on the best-suited vehicles capable of towing.  So, for those of you who have the right tow vehicle, let’s take a look at some tips when it comes time to hitch up the caravan and be off on a trip of a lifetime around Australia.  Caravanning is still one of the best ways of seeing Australia and meeting plenty of people along the way.

If you are going to be travelling for a long time or for a great distance, then there are a few things worth considering so as to make your trip as rewarding as possible.  Here is a list of suggestions for you to consider before departing on your next caravan trip:

I’m assuming that you’ve already got the right tow vehicle.  The tow vehicle manufacturer’s towing recommendations shouldn’t be exceeded.

You may be thinking seriously about your caravanning adventure but still be at the pre-caravan purchase.  Do ensure that you take your time purchasing a caravan; this will help you make the right decision for you and your family (if they’re going to go with you).

If your tow vehicle is an automatic, then you should look at investing in a new transmission oil cooler, particularly if the tow vehicle has seen a few kilometres.  Hauling a big load does put higher stress loads on the transmission, thus heating it up.  If the transmission cooler isn’t up to the task, it won’t be long before you’ll cook the transmission and hit problems.  An overheated transmission is likely to cost plenty to repair or rebuild.  The price you’ll pay for a decent new transmission oil cooler will be cheaper than a new gearbox or gearbox overhaul.

Planning ahead always helps; so write a checklist when planning your caravan holiday.  This is so that you don’t leave anything important behind.

Keep in mind that your camping gear, which includes equipment such as water, food, clothes, blankets, camping gear etc, will generally add another 3-to-500 kg to the weight of the empty caravan.  And it’s also important, when loading the caravan, that the heaviest items are packed on the floor of the caravan, close to the middle where the caravan axles are, above the wheels.  This distributes the weight nicely over the axles and prevents the caravan becoming front-or-rear heavy.  If the weight bias is toward the front or rear then you’ll strike handling and braking issues.  Light items should be stored at the top, and can span the length of the caravan easily enough, but the more weighted items should be distributed evenly on the floor and in the middle and over the caravan axles.

Always carry a fire extinguisher on board your caravan; that way you’ll be properly prepared to stop any fires from getting out of control.  And, on the topic of fires/heat, a great idea when having a BBQ at caravan parks is to use baking paper on the BBQ plate, this way you can simply fold up the paper after use, and the plate will remain clean.  I’m all for avoiding doing dishes as much as possible!

Make sure you do pack some flat blocks of wood.  These can be used as a sure footing for the caravan’s parking-stability arms when your camp site is on uneven ground.  They can also be used as a firm base for changing any tyres.  Oh, and make sure you have a spare wheel for the caravan, just in case your caravan gets a puncture a long way from a service station.

One addition that makes hitching up very easy is a reversing camera.  You can even buy an aftermarket unit for reasonable money if your current vehicle doesn’t have one fitted.

Do check out the caravan and camping accessories that are for sale on the market.  These can help make your caravan holiday even more comfortable and enjoyable.

There will be even more great tips, so do share your ideas/experiences with us….

Have fun and enjoy the sights!

Are Solid State Batteries the Next Big Thing?

Toyota is set to headline the next technology development for electric cars, solid state batteries. After a delay in producing  a prototype of the technology in 2020, the Japanese car giant is set to give us a preview of its efforts this year. If all goes well, with the backing of the Japanese government, full production of solid state batteries could be just a few years away.

 

What is a solid state battery?

A solid state battery is a form of battery technology utilising solid electrodes and a solid electrolyte as opposed to liquid or polymer gel electrolytes that are common in lithium-ion or lithium polymer batteries.

This type of technology is considered a more superior fuel technology compared with lithium ion batteries due to the fact that solid state batteries are typically smaller, faster to charge, more energy dense and do not pose as much of a fire risk without the presence of a liquid or gel.

 

 

 

What does this mean in the real world?

In some quarters, observers anticipate that solid state batteries will help enable electric vehicles to drive as much as 1000km without requiring a recharge. This is much greater than the likes of the range achieved by Tesla, even if its numbers have been improving with each release. Furthermore, these batteries could theoretically be recharged in less than 10 minutes, which would be a considerable breakthrough.

There are also some secondary benefits associated with solid state batteries that ties in with vehicle design. This includes the prospect of better space optimisation and a sense of roominess in the cabin on account of the smaller battery.

Over the long-term, these batteries are expected to maintain about 90% of their charge for as long as 30 years, which would make them significantly more durable and reliable than today’s lithium ion batteries.

 

The race to be first to market

While Toyota is at the centre of the push to develop solid state batteries, they are certainly not on their own. In addition, the likes of Volkswagen and Nissan are working on their own prototypes, while US car start-up Fisker is also looking to pioneer a solution for its luxury sedans.

With such an expansive and burgeoning market ripe for the picking, manufacturers will be keen to break through and make an impact with their own technology. Who will be first to market remains to be seen, however, there can be no denying that electric vehicles will only become mainstream when there is the fundamental technology in place to support long-range driving.

Mazda Hits 2021 With Updates To The Mazda6

Mazda Australia has released details of the key updates for 2021 to their Mazda6 Sedan and Wagon. Sales are due to start for the updated vehicles from March of 2021. This includes the addition of the GT SP Turbo 2.5L four cylinder engine which will be available in the sedan and wagon. Mazda Australia Managing Director, Vinesh Bhindi, commented: “As our passenger car flagship, Mazda6 holds strong appeal in its segment with its advanced specification and option of Sedan and Wagon body styles. This latest update is highlighted by the new GT SP model, which brings a distinctly sporty characteristic to the Mazda6 range and builds on the local GT SP portfolio alongside the CX-9.”

The Mazda6 Sport Sedan and Wagon offers a solid list of standard equipment. The sedan and wagon will ride on 17inch alloys with 225/55, rubber. Headlights are LED powered, as are the rear lights. The wing mirrors will be heated for those frosty and foggy mornings, and the wagon gets roof rails and a rear spoiler as standard.

Inside is Apple and Android app compatibility via an 8.0 inch satnav equipped touchscreen plus Bluetooth streaming and Mazda’s MZD Connect function. Stitcher and Aha internet radio is listed as standard. Passengers are kept cool thanks to dual zone climate control and rear facing vents for the second row passengers. The wagon receives a cargo net and Mazda’s Karakuri tonneau cover. There’s an electric park brake, leather wrapped steering wheel and gear selector knob, and Mazda’s Multi-function Control.Passengers sit on black cloth covered seats, and second row passengers have a USB port in the seat arm rest.

Safety is high, with Blind Spot Monitoring, a Driver Attention Alert function, along with Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Mazda Radar Cruise Control. Traffic Sign Recognition and Smart Brake Support are fitted, as is Smart City Brake Support [Forward/Reverse]. Tyre Pressure Monitoring makes sure all four corners can be checked on the go.Move to the Touring variant and there is black leather seats with the driver’s seat having a two position memory function along with 10 way adjustment. The passenger has a six way adjustment feature. LED DRLs are standard here as is keyless entry and front parking sensors.

On top of the Touring specification, the GT SP adds the turbocharged 2.5-litre petrol engine, plus 19 inch black painted alloys with 225/45 tyres. Front and rear seats gain heating and are wrapped in burgundy leather with the same colour highlights added to the instrument panel and door trims.Power for the Sport and Touring Sedans & Wagons comes from the Skyactiv-6 2.5L petrol four. Peak torque is 252Nm (4,000rpm(, and power is 140kW (6,000rpm). Economy is rated at 7.0L/100km A six speed auto drives the front wheels. Both GT SP and the Atenza variants have a same sized angine with 170kW (5,000rpm( and a very impressive 420Nm of peak torque at just 2,000rpm. Economy is rated at 7.6L/100km and that’s using 91RON unleaded.Visual differentiation sees both GT SP and Atenza models gaining Turbo badging. A new colour has been added called Polymetal Grey Metallic.

Over the equipment list for the Sport and GT, the Atenza specification has the same diameter wheels but are finished in a non-painted, bright, look. There is a sunroof, venting for the front seats, LED ambient lighting, and real wood trim. Nappa leather is available in walnut brown or white for the seats under black headlining and Ultrasuede door and dash trim. The driver sees information on a 7.0 inch display and the main touchscreen offers a 360 degree view.Pricing starts from $34,590 plus ORC for the Sport Sedan, with the Sport Wagon from $35,890 plus ORC. The Touring Sedan starts from $38,890 plus ORC with the Wagon from $40,190. Head to the GT SP Sedan and see $46,690 plus ORC and $47,990 plus ORC for the GT SP Wagon. The Atenza Sedan and Wagon start from $50,090 and $51,390 plus ORC each.

Takata Airbags Recall Update.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has today (January 14) reported that the website relating to the Takata airbag safety recall, www.ismyairbagsafe.com.au, has reached 12 million checks. As a result, over two million vehicles equipped with the faulty Takata airbag inflators have been identified as having the problem airbags, which have the potential to kill or seriously injure vehicle occupants.

Across Australia, car manufacturers have replaced faulty Takata airbags in more than 2.72 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. Vehicle owners unsure of the recall status of their vehicles can immediately check by visiting the website or by texting the word TAKATA to 0487 247 224.

The 12 million represents a staggering 67 per cent of the 17.8 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles on Australian roads. The FCAI chief executive, Tony Weber, said: “The website has been an outstanding success in helping people identify whether their vehicles are affected by the national Takata recall. The heavy usage of the website clearly demonstrates that vehicle owners appreciate being able to readily access important safety information.”

And although the deadline set by the industry had passed, manufacturers are still working to identify more vehicles, said Mr Weber. “We will continue hosting the website through early 2021 to ensure vehicle owners can readily check the recall status of their vehicles. If owners identify any outstanding faulty airbags, manufacturers and dealers will replace them free of charge.”

If you have a vehicle that is unregistered, it’s recommended you check by contacting the relevant brand directly. This, said Mr Weber, is important as he warned that state and territory governments were now deregistering or refusing registration of vehicles fitted with unrectified Takata airbags. “Don’t let your vehicle be taken off the road by the authorities. Vehicle owners can easily avoid the inconvenience and serious legal risks associated with deregistration by making prompt arrangements for free replacement”.

The www.ismyairbagsafe.com.au website is an integral part of the automotive industry’s national communications campaign in support of the airbag recall. The industry campaign has made extensive use of national and regional television, radio, print, cinema, digital and social media, and of non-English press.

Our Population’s Need for Cars

The numbers are saying that there is a growing percentage of our population here in Australia that are classed as elderly; by elderly I mean over 65 years of age with a bit of a white/grey background in their hair colour.  Our largest age group sits in the 30 to 34 year old bracket.  Our population of youngsters under the age of 10 also continues to increase.  As well as that, Australia’s overall population is continuing to grow swiftly – thanks mainly to Australia being a great place to make the shift to live and work in.  Building our infrastructure to keep up with the influx and accommodate the population growth is something Australia continues to do well, and definitely Australia does infrastructure a whole lot better than most countries in the rest of the world.

Brisbane, Perth and Sydney know how to do public transport, with Melbourne a shining light when it comes to usable public transport; in fact, more than 80 % of all public transport kilometres in Melbourne are travelled on roads.  All our big Australian cities do the public transport service pretty well, Adelaide being well up the user-usability, user-friendly, and user-satisfaction rankings, too.  However, most of us rely on our own private vehicles to get us across town and city, to travel from one township to another, or even to get from one major city to another throughout, and across, Australia.

The Australian road network covers more than 877,000 kilometres, which is quite phenomenal when you think about it, and well over half a million Australians rely on these roads for their full-time employment.  A relatively recent (2016) analysis of the preferred method of travel that residents in Australia used to get to work showed that 11.4 % used public transport, while 66.1 % used a private vehicle.  These figures still followed pretty-true in Australian Greater Capital Cities surveys, where 15.7 % used public transport and 63.3 % used a private vehicle.  Whilst many of the elderly move closer to the city centre or find a hub that is close to amenities, even the elderly find it hard to totally give up the car keys.  You can’t beat the park just outside your destination!

Here are some interesting stats and bits of info taken from various recent surveys held in Australia, and we need to thank the likes of the Australian Bureau of Statistics for keeping us informed.  Did you know that there were 19.8 million registered motor vehicles across Australia as at the 31st January 2020.  This points to our national fleet having increased by 1.5 % from the same figures discovered in 2019.  Of the 19.8 million vehicles, 25.6 % of the national fleet are diesel and 72.7 % are petrol.  Light, rigid, diesel trucks continue to have the largest growth rate in registrations, increasing 5.8 per cent over the year.  This is followed, rather contemplatively for me, by campervans with a 3.5 per cent growth in registrations.  Light rigid trucks include your Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux type vehicles.

Though still a very small portion of the pie, electric vehicles are gaining some traction in Australia.  Sarah Kiely, Director of ABS Transport Statistics, stated that “While electric vehicles are still small in number, less than 0.1 per cent of the fleet, the 14,253 electric vehicles registered in 2020 is almost double the previous year.”

The growth in our population and the need for more new cars for transportation are reasons why we are seeing the WestConnex  infrastructure project (US $16bn) that is linking Western and South Western Sydney with the city, airport and port in a 33 km continuous motorway.  Once this project is finished, motorists will be able to bypass up to 52 sets of traffic signals from Beverly Hills through to Parramatta.  The Melbourne Airport rail link (US $5bn) is set for construction beginning 2022.  There are many big-ticket infrastructure items on the go, and in the pipeline, that all help get our people about efficiently.

It might be time to trade in your 10.4 year old car (the average age for an Australian car) in for a new Toyota, which is the most preferred manufacturer by Australian new car buyers.

Kia Updates Logo And Carnival For 2021.

This is the new logo for Kia. It was unveiled on January 6, along with the new motto for the Korean car company. “Kia’s new logo represents the company’s commitment to becoming an icon for change and innovation” said Ho Sung Song, Kia’s President and CEO. “The automotive industry is experiencing a period of rapid transformation, and Kia is proactively shaping and adapting to these changes. Our new logo represents our desire to inspire customers as their mobility needs evolve, and for our employees to rise to the challenges we face in a fast-changing industry.”

The company also employed drones to make a skyshow reveal, with 303 separate craft took to the darkness above Incheon. By doing so the drones are now listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the most unmanned aerial vehicles involved in a pyrotechnic display. Kia have also released details of the 2021MY Carnival. Based on the same new platform as the recently updated Sorento, the Carnival brings striking new looks to the four model range. Here is the pricing matrix, with premium paints at $695. Kia’s signature is the “Tiger Nose” grille and this now extends widthwise via the front lights to further dominate the bluff nose. Slimmer headlights incorporate LED Daytime Running Lights at either end. The Carnival will feature a full tail-width light bar, similar to the look as shown on the Korean release Stinger. It loses weight visually for the rear of the Carnival.

Depending on specification, Carnival will have 17, 18, or 19 inch alloys. Eight colours for the skin will be available, and a “floating island” roof is a stand out, thanks to blacked-out A And B pillars, along with the new signature for the C pillar, a fin that abuts the rear of the sliding door.

Kia have shortened the front overhang, and moved the A pillar rearward to give a longer bonnet to the popular people mover. The chin has the familiar black urethane airdam.The chassis is new and provides better interior packaging, enhancing and providing a more useful interior. Kia calls the philosophy “Spatial Talents”, with a futuristic feel including a wider panoramic screen dash and haptic feedback tabs. The drive selector is now at a more “fall to hand” position at the centre console’s base.

Interior room improves thanks to an increase in the wheelbase, up to 3,090mm. Width is up slightly, by 10mm to 1,995mm. In length, an extra 40mm has been added for a full 5,155mm. This adds 30mm to the rear overhang and increases room for both cargo and third row passengers.

With the middle and rear rows laid flat, cargo is up to a class leading 2,095L. With the third row up there is a huge 627L. Loading items in is now easier with a lip drop of 26mm.The hub of the car’s connectivity features is the high-tech digital display. In Si, SLi and Platinum trims this links Kia’s latest 4.2-inch digital driver instrument cluster and 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system under a single seamless piece of glass. The S level trim has an 8-inch Audio Visual Unit and a 4.2-inch TFT information cluster for the driver. Voice recognition tech is on-board with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

In a market dependent sense, Kia Live will allow for information such as live traffic updates, weather updates, remote destination provision, and potentially even parking information. The satnav system has a ten year update availability for the maps.

An unusual feature is the Rear Passenger View & Talk. This allows the driver to keep their view ahead whilst using a small camera and microphone to check on and converse with the passengers behind them. The rear seat passengers also may be able to operate the infotainment system.The SmartFob provides a higher measure of hands-free operation for the powered sliding doors and tailgate with a presence sensor opening or closing the doors if read for three seconds. A safety feature embedded in the Carnival’s extensive package is SEA, Safe Exit Assistance. Sensors will monitor traffic and stop the sliding doors from opening if traffic is detected. This is aimed at the family users with smaller children eager to disembark.

HDA, Highway Driving Assist, is Kia’s Level 2 autonomous driving technology. This brings the Carnival into a different level of safety, with a front view camera and radar reading forward traffic and adjusting braking, acceleration, and steering if required.

A new safety system is Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA) and this works by automatically braking the Carnival if sensors detect oncoming rear traffic. Other features such as Lane Following Assist (LFA); Highway Driving Assist (HDA); and Surround View Monitor (SVM) will be available on a market dependent basis.Power will come from either a 216kW/355Nm petrol V6, or the grunty 2.2L diesel with 148kW and 440Nm. The latter will already be familiar to many, and has also been given a makeover with new injectors, balance shafts,an alloy block instead of iron, and a different exhaust system for better emissions. Kia says 170 grams per kilometre. For the petrol engine, refinements have a combined fuel consumption figure of 9.6L/100km, a betterment of around 10 percent.

Transmissions will be the very good eight speed auto across the board. Underneath are completely revamped front and rear suspension components with a new IRS and a new “skeletal cross member” up front. This provides a better geometry to improve ride and sharpen handling. Liquid filled suspension bushes further improve ride quality. The body is comprised of different styles of steel, adding flexibility where required, strength where required.

We’ll have the Carnival Platinum soon.

Should I Buy a Second Car for the Family?

Gathering the money for a new car to replace your old one is already a challenge for many, which underlines the importance of shopping around for the best deal. However, there is also another complexity if you don’t want to replace your old car, rather, you are looking at buying a second car for the family.

 

Initial considerations

With a second car, you have to weigh up a few questions and think hard about your budget. If you’re still paying off the existing car, will you have enough in your pay packet to meet the repayments for two cars? Have you factored in that you will now need to pay for two registrations and two sets of maintenance costs, not to mention extra petrol? It really pays to do your homework and have a good hard think.

On the other hand, if you have already paid off the existing car, it might be easier to fund your second car given the implications for your credit history as well as cash flow.

No matter what your situation, it doesn’t hurt to think about whether you actually need a second car. Most of the time we can make do with one, but for families where mum and dad run to a different schedule, or one of the kids has just gotten their licence, a second car becomes very practical.

 

Making the decision

Here’s a handful of questions that you might want to ask yourself before you decide whether you should get one car or two:

  1. How many people are there in your family? What are their travel needs? If mum or dad are on the road a lot, and/or the kids do a lot of sport or out-of-school activities, a second car is a bit of a necessity.
  2. Where do you live? It goes without saying that the more remote your location, the more critical it is that more than one member of the family has access to a car at any given time. You can’t overlook the prospect of an emergency, where a matter of timing can be everything.
  3. What sort of trips are you likely to make? If they are all short trips, you might be able to make do with a bike or by walking.
  4. What is your local public transport like? If public transport provides you with sufficient access to shops, services and amenities in your area, save yourself from buying another car. Plus, you’ll do your bit for the environment!
  5. Do you have to transport a lot of items with you? Tradies are the obvious ones here, where a ute might make sense as a second vehicle. But if you’re riding around with an empty boot most of the time, is another car really all that useful?

As you’ll see, the decision is a highly personal one, and only you and your family will truly understand your vehicle needs.

FCAI Releases December & 2020 Vehicle Sales Figures.

Australia’s FCAI, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, has provided the final vehicle sales figures for 2020 and for December of 2020.

Covid-19’s effects were obvious, as the final figure for 2020 was 916,968, down from 2019’s 1,062,867. That’s a reduction of 13.7%. However, December 2020 saw an increase from December of 2019, with 95,652 sales. That’s up by 13.5% with 84,239 sold in December 2019. It rolls on from the previous month, with 95,205 and that’s up by 12.4% from November 2019.

FCAI chief executive, Tony Weber, said signs of the recovery of the new vehicle market were welcomed by automotive brands. “COVID-19 has brought a health crisis and a corresponding economic crisis to the world during 2020. And along with the rest of Australia, automotive brands and their dealer networks have found the last twelve months an extremely challenging period. The automotive industry in Australia accounts for more than 60,000 employees, with over 4,000 dealerships across the country. The contribution made by these businesses is critically important to the economic wellbeing of communities across Australia. It is therefore with great relief that the industry, along with the general economy, is finally noting some positive signs within the market.”

As has been the norm for the past few years, SUVs and utility vehicles made up the lion’s share of the sales. For 2020, SUVs finished with 49.6% of the market, up from 45.5% of overall market share from 2019, with sales figures of 454,701 in 2020. That’s still down by 5.9% from 2019.

Toyota continued its number one positioning, with 204,801 vehicles sold and resulting in 22.3 market share for 2020. Mazda took second, with 9.3% and 85,640 sales. Hyundai took the bronze with 64,807 and 7.1%. Ford was nipping at their heels with 59,601 sales and and 6.5%, followed by Mitsubishi on 6.4% and 58,335 sales.

Light Commercial Vehicles finished with 22.4% market share in 2020, with 205,597 and down by 8.9% on 2019. Passenger vehicles had a 24.2% market share, with 222,103, and down by 29.7% in total from 2019.

It’s interesting to note that seven of the top ten vehicles for the year were either SUVs or LCVs. Toyota’s HiLux moved 45,176 units, Ford Ranger was a close second with 40,973 sales, whilst Toyota RAV4 had 38,537 sales. Toyota’s Corolla finished on 25,882 sales and their Landcruiser rolled out 25,142 sales.

Mazda CX-5 saw 2020 out with 21,979 sales, whilst Hyundai’s i30 finished with 20,734 sales. Mitsubishi’s Triton had 18,136 sales, just ahead of the Toyota Prado with 18,034 sales and Kia Cerato’s 17,559 sales.

In an overall market and sales figures context, the pickup/cab chassis market had 32,783 units in the 4×2 sector, 168,869 units in the 4×4 for 2020, down by 9.5% from 2019. PHEV SUVs had a small increase both for December and the year, with a monthly figure of 183, up from 110 the year before, and 1,282 for the year, up from 1,178 for 2019. Hybrid SUVs saw a bigger jump, with December 2020 seeing 3,470 from 1,333 for December 2019, and 34,933 for the year, up from 9,732 for 2019.

Hybrid and PHEV passenger cars also saw small increases, with fully electric cars moving 66 in December 2020, up by just six from the same month of 2019. The year’s figures had 939, up from 2019’s 831.